Blog: A round of applause

The cast of ‘Dressing Down’ by Amelia Mylnowska. From left to right: Katharine Marshall, Olivia Sawbridge, Joe James and Alex Wilcox

Over 190 audience members attended our recent performance of Out of the Archive; it was fantastic to see so many faces and share our archive with them in such a creative way. As the process began in 2013 with sharings from the Youth Theatre, it’s been a long journey to get there. Our Young Playwrights, mentored by writer, Greg Mosse, worked for a couple of months on their scripts. These were then brought to life with Youth Theatre members at several read-throughs. Once finalised, page turned to stage and director Megan Purdie led a cast of seven young performers along with a technical team to create the final pieces. Performed in the Minerva Theatre on Saturday 25 October 2014, the three final plays made us laugh, stirred our hearts and chilled our spines. After the show, we asked cast and audience members what they thought of the process and the performance:

“Being involved in Out of the Archive was a fantastic experience. Having recently finished college and having only been involved in various youth theatre productions prior to this, Out of the Archive had a much more professional feeling to it. It was a great bridge for me into a bigger acting world; by performing in the prestigious Minerva theatre, working with other young actors in similar positions, and under the both experienced and friendly direction of CFT’s own Megan Purdie. One feeling that made Out of the Archive particularly special though, was the relation with Chichester Festival Theatre’s rich history. I really felt connected with the Theatre through the inventive use of the archive and the heritage project, bringing the past out of the archive and back onto the stage.”

The cast of ‘Seagull’ by Catherine O’Shea. From left to right: Joe James, Katharine Marshall, Briony Laker, Megan Ekinsmyth

– Alex Wilcox, cast member of Out of the Archive (Stephen in Dressing Down by Amelia Mlynowska)

“Chichester Festival Theatre has played a huge part in my life. So much so that it has inspired me to pursue a career in theatre. Having recently completed a three year drama degree I was eager to keep performing, and when an opportunity arose to perform for a project which focused on the re-discovering of CFT’s vibrant history, I leapt at the opportunity…Each play was fictionalized, but based on documents and artefacts regarding CFT from the 60s, 70s and 80s. I was to perform in two of the three plays; Dressing Down, a piece inspired by a dress etiquette article published in the 60s about what to wear to the theatre so as not to clash with the décor, and Seagull, a piece about an understudy rehearsal for the 1970s production of Chekov’s The Seagull.

The cast of ‘The Revenge of Martha G’ by Freddie Machin. From left to right: Briony Laker, Olivia Sawbridge, Megan Ekinsmyth and Anna Ivankovic

I really enjoyed working on both texts, mostly because both the characters were very different; Geoffrey, my character in Dressing Down was a middle aged, upper class, theatre- going regular, who would find even a tartan tie “absolutely frightful”, whilst Keir, my character in Seagull, was a twenty-something struggling actor with too much of a laid back attitude. The blocking and line learning only took a couple of weeks of rehearsals, which left us plenty of time to fine tune every moment of each production. The process was made all the more enjoyable by the numerous people involved – the members of the Pass It On team, who were so enthusiastic about the piece, and the members of the technical team, who made the whole thing possible. This project helped highlight the significance of the Chichester Festival Theatre, and the effect it has had on the local community as well as the theatre industry as a whole. I hope that the Pass It On team continues with the brilliant and relevant work that they are doing, and I would urge any visitor to Chichester to take time to observe the important work which they are doing.”

– Joe James, cast member of Out of the Archive (Geoffrey in Dressing Down by Amelia Mlynowska and Keir in Seagull by Catherine O’Shea)

“I love the whole concept of the project finding these artefacts in the archive and then building plays around them. Really great idea!”

– Audience member

A huge thank you and congratulations to all involved!